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Obsessive Compulsive Cycling Disorder: Volume One By Dave Barter

Release date: 12th November, 2016
Publisher: Lulu (re-issue as PB)

List Price: £8.95
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Stepping into a mirrored lift in a Birmingham hotel, author Dave Barter, then in his late twenties, caught a glimpse of himself and realised he was no longer a svelte teenager but well on the road to becoming an overweight lump.

In an attempt to shed the evidence of early middle-age spread, Barter decided to join a handful of workmates heading out for a lunchtime run rather than to the pub. Soon, his inner athlete was embracing the exercise with a passion and within a very short space of time, he was completing 10k in less than 40 minutes; his beer belly had disappeared within six months.

However, following an ill-timed venture onto a five-a-side football pitch, which resulted in a severely torn cartilage, Barter is forced to give up running (and football); he tries swimming and climbing before he is re-introduced to cycling and so his OCCD begins.

It’s a circuitous route to two wheels, but in Barter’s company, it’s an enjoyable prelude to an engaging journey; what follows is the cycling equivalent of a quiet, wide-open road on a sunny day.

OCCD is an anthology of thirty articles, written over a period of ten years. According to Barter, “the collection exhibits the madness that engulfs those who descend into cycling obsession,” which, in the author’s case, appears an entirely appropriate summary.

You have to be dedicated (or crazy) to go night riding on a bike in this country; cycling in daylight is dangerous enough, but Barter’s prime concern, as he passes a particular pub for the umpteenth time, appears to be to remember ‘the price of a pint’ the next time he’s out at night.

Then there’s the challenge of the Étape: a mountain stage of the Tour de France undertaken by more than 8,000 amateur riders of whom Barter is one. His descriptions of the descents, on rough roads, is particularly hair-raising, but he peppers them with tiny, bite-sized anecdotes: over a climb of 12,000 feet, for instance, Barter reckons he consumed the equivalent of 62 fig rolls (for their carbohydrate qualities) and still finished in a creditable time.

Barter labels his book ‘volume one’; cycling fans will eagerly await the second, while for those of us slumped in post-festive, weight-adding mode, this first volume offers enough in the way of seasonal inspiration to make us want to get out and on two wheels.


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